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Author ORCID ID is 0000000333609210
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  1. We report results from a multiscale computational modeling study of biomass fast pyrolysis in an experimental laboratory reactor that combined the hydrodynamics predicted by a two-fluid model (TFM) with predictions from a finite element model (FEM) of heat and mass transfer and chemical reactions within biomass particles. The experimental pyrolyzer consisted of a 2-inch (5.1 cm)-diameter bubbling fluidized bed reactor (FBR) fed with milled pine pellets. The predicted FBR hydrodynamics included estimates of the residence times that the gas and biomass particles spend in the reactor before they exit. A single-particle FEM model was constructed based on geometry and heatmore » transfer properties determined from optical and X-ray Computed Tomography (XCT) measurements of wood and char particles collected from the experimental FBR, along with previously proposed pyrolysis reaction kinetics. Taken together, the combined TFM and FEM simulation results predicted net bio-oil yields at the reactor exit that agree well with experimental observations, without any arbitrary fitting parameters. The combined computational models also provided practical information about the most important reactor and feedstock parameters.« less
  2. A novel renewable cathode made from earth abundant, low-cost materials can contribute to the intermittent storage needs of renewable energy-based society. In this work, we report for the first-time tannin from Nature as a cathode material. Our approach exploits the charge storage mechanism of the redox active quinone moiety. Tannins extracted from tree bark using environmental friendly aqueous solvents have the highest phenol content (5.56 mol g -1) among all the natural phenolic biopolymers, 5000 times higher than lignin. Tannins coupled with a conductive polymer polypyrrole acquire high specific capacitance values of 370 F g -1 at 0.5 A gmore » -1 as well as excellent rate performance of 196 F g -1 at 25 A g -1. Additionally, we employed carbonized wood as an electrode substrate to produce a sustainable electrochemical device with dramatically improved performance compared to conventional devices. The high surface area provided by the well-aligned, cellular porosity of wood-derived substrate combined with the high mobility of ions and electrons in the carbonized cell walls and deposited tannin can achieve an areal capacitance of 4.6 F cm -2 at 1 mA cm -2, which is 1.5 times higher than activated wood carbon.« less
  3. Here, we developed lead halide perovskite quantum dot (QD) films with tuned surface chemistry based on A-site cation halide salt (AX) treatments. QD perovskites offer colloidal synthesis and processing using industrially friendly solvents, which decouples grain growth from film deposition, and at present produce larger open-circuit voltages (V OC's) than thin-film perovskites. CsPbI 3 QDs, with a tunable bandgap between 1.75 and 2.13 eV, are an ideal top cell candidate for all-perovskite multijunction solar cells because of their demonstrated small V OC deficit. We show that charge carrier mobility within perovskite QD films is dictated by the chemical conditions atmore » the QD-QD junctions. The AX treatments provide a method for tuning the coupling between perovskite QDs, which is exploited for improved charge transport for fabricating high-quality QD films and devices. The AX treatments presented here double the film mobility, enabling increased photocurrent, and lead to a record certified QD solar cell efficiency of 13.43%.« less
    Cited by 46Full Text Available
  4. Here, biomass particles can experience variable thermal conditions during fast pyrolysis due to differences in their size and morphology, and from local temperature variations within a reactor. These differences lead to increased heterogeneity of the chemical products obtained in the pyrolysis vapors and bio-oil. Here we present a simple, high-throughput method to investigate the thermal history experienced by large ensembles of particles during fast pyrolysis by imaging and quantitative image analysis. We present a correlation between the surface luminance (darkness) of the biochar particle and the highest temperature that it experienced during pyrolysis. Next, we apply this correlation to large,more » heterogeneous ensembles of char particles produced in a laminar entrained flow reactor (LEFR). The results are used to interpret the actual temperature distributions delivered by the reactor over a range of operating conditions.« less
  5. Oxygenated biofuels provide a renewable, domestic source of energy that can enable adoption of advanced, high-efficiency internal combustion engines, such as those based on homogeneously charged compression ignition (HCCI). Of key importance to such engines is the cetane number (CN) of the fuel, which is determined by the autoignition of the fuel under compression at relatively low temperatures (550-800 K). For the plethora of oxygenated biofuels possible, it is desirable to know the ignition delay times and the CN of these fuels to help guide conversion strategies so as to focus efforts on the most desirable fuels. For alkanes, themore » chemical pathways leading to radical chain-branching reactions giving rise to low-temperature autoignition are well-known and are highly coincident with the buildup of reactive radicals such as OH. Key in the mechanisms leading to chain branching are the addition of molecular oxygen to alkyl radicals and the rearrangement and dissociation of the resulting peroxy radials. Prediction of the temperature and pressure dependence of reactions that lead to the buildup of reactive radicals requires a detailed understanding of the potential energy surfaces (PESs) of these reactions. In this study, we used quantum mechanical modeling to systematically compare the effects of oxygen functionalities on these PESs and associated kinetics so as to understand how they affect experimental trends in autoignition and CN. The molecules studied here include pentane, pentanol, pentanal, 2-heptanone, methylpentyl ether, methyl hexanoate, and pentyl acetate. All have a saturated five-carbon alkyl chain with an oxygen functional group attached to the terminal carbon atom. The results of our systematic comparison may be summarized as follows: (1) Oxygen functionalities activate C-H bonds by lowering the bond dissociation energy (BDE) relative to alkanes. (2) The R-OO bonds in peroxy radicals adjacent to carbonyl groups are weaker than corresponding alkyl systems, leading to dissociation of ROO radicals and reducing reactivity and hence CN. (3) Hydrogen atom transfer in peroxy radicals is important in autoignition, and low barriers for ethers and aldehydes lead to high CN. (4) Peroxy radicals formed from alcohols have low barriers to form aldehydes, which reduce the reactivity of the alkyl radical. In conclusion, these findings for the formation and reaction of alkyl radicals with molecular oxygen explain the trend in CN for these common biofuel functional groups.« less
  6. Producing fuels, chemicals, and materials from renewable resources to meet societal demands remains an important step in the transition to a sustainable, clean energy economy. The use of cellulolytic enzymes for the production of nanocellulose enables the coproduction of sugars for biofuels production in a format that is largely compatible with the process design employed by modern lignocellulosic (second generation) biorefineries. However, yields of enzymatically produced nanocellulose are typically much lower than those achieved by mineral acid production methods. In this study, we compare the capacity for coproduction of nanocellulose and fermentable sugars using two vastly different cellulase systems: themore » classical 'free enzyme' system of the saprophytic fungus, Trichoderma reesei (T. reesei) and the complexed, multifunctional enzymes produced by the hot springs resident, Caldicellulosiruptor bescii (C. bescii). Here, we demonstrate by comparative digestions that the C. bescii system outperforms the fungal enzyme system in terms of total cellulose conversion, sugar production, and nanocellulose production. In addition, we show by multimodal imaging and dynamic light scattering that the nanocellulose produced by the C. bescii cellulase system is substantially more uniform than that produced by the T. reesei system. These disparities in the yields and characteristics of the nanocellulose produced by these disparate systems can be attributed to the dramatic differences in the mechanisms of action of the dominant enzymes in each system.« less
    Cited by 10Full Text Available
  7. Here in this computational study, we model the mixing of biomass pyrolysis vapor with solid catalyst in circulating riser reactors with a focus on the determination of solid catalyst residence time distributions (RTDs). A comprehensive set of 2D and 3D simulations were conducted for a pilot-scale riser using the Eulerian-Eulerian two-fluid modeling framework with and without sub-grid-scale models for the gas-solids interaction. A validation test case was also simulated and compared to experiments, showing agreement in the pressure gradient and RTD mean and spread. For simulation cases, it was found that for accurate RTD prediction, the Johnson and Jackson partialmore » slip solids boundary condition was required for all models and a sub-grid model is useful so that ultra high resolutions grids that are very computationally intensive are not required. Finally, we discovered a 2/3 scaling relation for the RTD mean and spread when comparing resolved 2D simulations to validated unresolved 3D sub-grid-scale model simulations.« less
  8. Here, wsing the validated simulation model developed in part one of this study for biomass catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP), we assess the functional utility of using this validated model to assist in the development of CFP processes in fluidized catalytic cracking (FCC) reactors to a commercially viable state. Specifically, we examine the effects of mass flow rates, boundary conditions (BCs), pyrolysis vapor molecular weight variation, and the impact of the chemical cracking kinetics on the catalyst residence times. The factors that had the largest impact on the catalyst residence time included the feed stock molecular weight and the degree ofmore » chemical cracking as controlled by the catalyst activity. Lastly, because FCC reactors have primarily been developed and utilized for petroleum cracking, we perform a comparison analysis of CFP with petroleum and show the operating regimes are fundamentally different.« less
  9. Here, direct numerical simulation of convective heat transfer from hot gas to isolated biomass particle models with realistic morphology and explicit microstructure was performed over a range of conditions with laminar flow of hot gas (500 degrees C). Steady-state results demonstrated that convective interfacial heat transfer is dependent on the wood species. The computed heat transfer coefficients were shown to vary between the pine and aspen models by nearly 20%. These differences are attributed to the species-specific variations in the exterior surface morphology of the biomass particles. We also quantify variations in heat transfer experienced by the particle when positionedmore » in different orientations with respect to the direction of fluid flow. These results are compared to previously reported heat transfer coefficient correlations in the range of 0.1 < Pr < 1.5 and 10 < Re < 500. Comparison of these simulation results to correlations commonly used in the literature (Gunn, Ranz-Marshall, and Bird-Stewart-Lightfoot) shows that the Ranz-Marshall (sphere) correlation gave the closest h values to our steady-state simulations for both wood species, though no existing correlation was within 20% of both species at all conditions studied. In general, this work exemplifies the fact that all biomass feedstocks are not created equal, and that their species-specific characteristics must be appreciated in order to facilitate accurate simulations of conversion processes.« less

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